When the Beatles were about to record ‘I Feel Fine’, John Lennon left his guitar next to the amplifier, when he picked it up there was a screeching, jarring electronic feedback howl.
The engineer said “Don’t worry we can cut that out”.
John said “Hang on, I quite like it.”
The other Beatles said “Yeah it’s really unusual, no one’s done that on a record”.
So, just for fun, they left it in and it became the most recognised opening to any track.
Later, when they were recording ‘Getting Better’ Paul was singing the happy, upbeat lyrics: “I’ve got to admit it’s getting better, it’s getting better all the time” and John, hating the saccharine lyrics, threw in, “It couldn’t get no worse”.
Instead of getting angry, Paul said “I love that, let’s keep it in”. It was fun.
In the early days, Paul’s Aunt Lil had said she was fed up with all the love songs the group kept singing: “Can’t you sing about something interesting?”
So that morning, when Paul saw an ad for Penguin books in the paper, he decided to write a lyric like a letter to a publisher, it became ‘Paperback Writer’. Just a bit of fun.
When they were starting out, the group used to play in Hamburg, being a large port full of sailors it was also full of prostitutes.
The prostitutes needed regular inspections to check they didn’t have STDs, if they were clean they were issued with a certificate saying they were okay to carry on.
John Lennon loved puns so this certificate became the basis for their song saying she had a ‘Ticket to Ride’. It was fun, it made them laugh.
When Paul was singing ‘Obla Di Obla Da’ he got confused on the last verse.
He should have sung, “Molly stays at home and does her pretty face” but by mistake he sang, “Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face”.
He said “Sorry guys, let’s go again”.
The other Beatles said “No we like it, it sounds like he’s a transvestite”.
It was fun, so they left it in.
‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ was the first psychedelic song they recorded.
They wanted it to sound unusual, really different, and before computers you couldn’t just press a button for that.
So they physically ran the tape of the instruments (plus seagulls) backwards through the tape player, then they sellotaped some tape into a loop and left that to repeat itself, eventually the only sounds heard forward were the sitar, the drums and the voice, the rest was backwards.
It hadn’t been planned that way, but it was fun.
What made the Beatles different to any other group was they didn’t take things too seriously.
All the other groups followed orders and did what they were told, but the Beatles didn’t do that.
They weren’t frightened of authority, they just wanted to have fun.
That’s what made them bigger, more creative, more original, than any other group.
Essential to creativity is not getting stuck in a rut, being able at any moment to leap out of the rut and change things.
If you can’t do that on your own, you need someone to help you do it.
John Webster once said to me “Your trouble is the ad’s as good as it’s ever going to get at script stage, you never leave room for happy accidents”.
And he was right, I needed partners for that, John would do it regularly, I’d give him a script and he’d make it better than I’d imagined.
Gordon Smith would do that, I’d give him a pentel-rough and Gordon’s finished press-ad would be way better than what I’d imagined.
Every time we gave Aardman a job, the film came back way better than the script we gave them.
Paul Arden once said to me that he saw with his eye whereas I only saw with my mind.
That’s true, and that meant I often left out the fun because I was concentrating on making sure we got everything right.
That’s why Bill Bernbach put copywriters and art directors together.
One should be concentrating on getting it right, one can be having fun.
Maybe that’s why advertising is boring now, no one has any fun doing it anymore.
It’s just a conveyor belt with everything done as fast as possible and sticking to the rules.
And you know what that means.
No fun in, no fun out.